Julian Edelman wasn’t the most highly touted prospect coming out of college, but the Patriots obviously saw something in the Kent State product.
As such, New England selected Edelman in the seventh round (232nd overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft.
The rest, of course, is history.
So, what exactly did the Patriots see?
Well, former Patriots vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli recently shared in a tweet that area scout Jim Nagy put Edelman on the team’s draft board as a wide receiver and advocated for him throughout the crosscheck process.
Edelman had been a quarterback and didn’t quite fit New England’s mold for tall pocket passers — the Patriots had Tom Brady and Matt Cassel — but he offered a lot from a pure football perspective, which Nagy, now the executive director of Reese’s Senior Bowl, highlighted in a follow-up to Pioli’s tweet.
Yeah, that sounds like Edelman.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss reached out to Nagy for more insight on his pre-draft assessment of Edelman, who recently retired after 12 NFL seasons with New England. It’s clear the Patriots loved Edelman’s overall talent and intangibles, for they seemingly constituted a package that would fit the franchise’s culture.
” … Julian was a heck of a football player, and you don’t want to discard really good football players. So you think outside the box and try to get creative, try to find a role for him,” Nagy told Reiss. “There were reasons you thought it could work. He had incredible short-area quickness. He had really good reactive cutting ability. He had great football instincts in terms of feeling people — spatial awareness, things of that nature. Extremely tough with the ball in this hands.
“Digging into the background part of it, he was extremely competitive. The fact he was a California (Junior College) kid and assimilated at a school in the Rust Belt, that’s not easy to do. He’d come out to practice and B.S. with the wideouts, so you could tell he was comfortable with that position group, and that made you feel good — that he was one of the guys.”
Edelman turned out to be much more than “one of the guys,” as he soon cemented himself as one of Brady’s most trusted targets en route to winning three Super Bowl titles and carving out a fantastic career few — maybe not even the Patriots — saw coming.